Yes, I’ve fallen in love with them too

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I think the buzz has died down enough for me to come out and admit I’ve got a little bit obsessive about The Hold Steady recently, like many another blogger out there… I think I might go on about this over several posts but for now I want to froth about the second album, Separation Sunday. I bought the most recent, Boys and Girls In America, first, and this one last, but it’s the one I find the most consistent. It’s also a concept album, two words that would have made me groan ten years ago; since then I’ve learned to love them again, but now every rubbish tweenage-friendly band is doing them I’m yearning for an album that’s just got ten half-decent songs on it. This is the exception, though the concept is subtle enough not to suck – I’m still working things out and suspect it doesn’t all neatly add up.

Because (as anyone will tell you) the great thing about this band is their lyrics (well, after the great hooks, passion, wit and general take on existence etc etc ) and this album is that rare thing, a set of stories you can listen to again and again. I can’t go into it now because once I get going we’ll be here for a while, but I think we could do with a taste of this album… first of all one of their great sing-along singles, which sounds exactly like someone grinning like an ecstatic loon but concerns all sorts of seaminess, if that’s a word.

And then, since it’s Easter and there’s a great deal of Catholic stuff bobbing alongside the other flotsam in their songs – sex and drugs and misery and the faint hope of redemption, for starters – I think we should have a listen to the superb closer to this album. Weirdly it reminds me of the last few minutes of ‘Empty Cans’ one of the other great ‘concept’ albums of recent years, The Streets’ A Grand Don’t Come For Free; it’s got the same surprisingly upbeat feel. Actually musically it couldn’t sound any more different… maybe it’s those piano chords. Anyway it makes most sense after the mystifying and harrowing stuff that goes before it and makes you feel like you’ve really earned it. The sun rises again, the trees are budding, the stone is rolled aside… happy Easter.

And happy Easter, Holly… “she crashed into the Easter Mass, with her hair done up in broken glass, she was limping left on broken heels and she said Father, can I tell your congregation how a resurrection really feels?”

Your Little Hoodrat Friend
– The Hold Steady

This Is How A Resurrection Really Feels
– The Hold Steady

Go and buy all three albums… you should.

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About jkneale

BothBarsOn's London correspondent.

Posted on April 5, 2007, in Album reviews. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Interesting one. There’s a bit of Mould/Sugar in his voice…slightly. Only listened to them once, so haven’t got the lyrics yet, but defo good ol’ fashioned rock n’ roll. And I can see why you were a little unsure that they were bordering on US pub blues. Thin-line stuff.

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